What should parents expect at mediation for a SEND dispute?
When a mediation has been arranged, your mediator will contact you a few days prior to the meeting to discuss your dispute with the Local Authority. The mediator will also contact the Local Authority’s representative so that they can understand both perspectives on the dispute prior to mediating.
SEND Mediation is an informal process designed to allow parties in a dispute to try to find a meaningful solution before a tribunal appeal becomes necessary. The SEND mediation is a chance for parents to ask questions and get answers; explain their viewpoint and be listened to; understand the Local Authority’s position and decision-making in greater detail; clarify the EHCP process and procedures going forward; explore options for next steps; and secure a written agreement attesting to any actions to be taken.
When you arrive at mediation, your mediator will introduce you to your Local Authority’s representative, and explain what will happen in the meeting. We do not operate a shuttle mediation system, so meetings take place in one room. The mediator will ask all parties to read and sign the Agreement to Mediate, a copy of which is sent to parents at the point that they first contact Releasing Potential Mediation. This provides the framework of rules for taking part in mediation and should be followed by all parties.
SEND Mediation is voluntary and confidential: a document called a Memorandum of Agreement (which details what has been agreed by both parties) is produced at the end of mediation and signed by all parties. Copies are sent out to parents and LA Representatives within 48 hours of the meeting.
The mediation meeting is an informal and confidential process (as opposed to the formal process of a tribunal) and does not normally include the testimony of witnesses or the presentation of extensive documentary evidence. Parents and Local Authority representatives can request the presence of additional attendees who they feel can make an important contribution to productive discussion, but all parties must agree these attendees in advance and the mediator will make the final decision about whether additional parties may attend and contribute to discussion. Parents are also able to bring additional documents if they are pertinent, but should not expect the Local Authority representative to read them in full during the meeting; it is advisable that parents make new or important documents available to the Local Authority (through the mediation service if you prefer) prior to mediation. Should parents feel strongly that certain parties must be present against the advice of the mediator, the tribunal process may be better suited to them and they can request a certificate to proceed to tribunal at any stage.
AddressReleasing Potential Mediation 7 Kingscroft Court
PO9 1LS Charity No: 1097440
Company No: 4622100
07764 326384 (Mediation Helpline)
023 9247 9762 (Releasing Potential Head Office)